An interview with Gilly Craft of the BIID

At Designer Connections, we offer you a range of networking events, CPD  seminars and an array of free professional services for interior design and architectural practices. 

We’re delighted that Gilly Craft, President of the BIID and MD and Lead Designer at Koubou Interiors in Berkshire, agreed to share her knowledge and expertise  with us this week.

Let’s start with Gilly’s presidency of the British Institute of Interior Designers.

How long have you been associated with BIID?

It feels like quite a long time ago as it was when I graduated in 2002. My tutor at the Regent Academy gave me the details of the BIDA as it was then and so I joined when I graduated as an Associate. It took another six years before I had completed all the requirements for full membership. The government awarded Institute Status to the BIDA in 2009 and so they became the BIID.

How long have you been a designer?

I qualified from the Regent Academy in 2002. I first started teaching City and Guilds Interior Design to adults. I was asked to do a few projects by private clients to start with and then the business, Koubou Interiors, really took off. I found the premises we still inhabit in 2004 and, after renovation, opened the practice in 2005. As we got busier, I had to stop the tutoring so that I could focus on the practice.

Why did you originally become a member of the BIID?

My tutor was very well informed and gave me an information pack, which appealed to me greatly; I knew I would be joining an association that would support me with my learning and give me professional networking support.

What do you feel you gained from membership? What is the importance of accreditation?

I have gained so much from my membership and I am sure other members would agree with me. Accreditation from the BIID shows that the Designer has passed through the pathway and has completed the following requirements: “All candidates must have a total of six years of combined interior design education and work experience or a minimum of 6 years work experience and have completed the Registration Assessment before becoming a BIID Registered Interior Designer.”  A client employing a BIID Registered Interior Designer will know that the designer is required to work to a code of conduct giving total peace of mind.

How did you go from member to President? What is the process?

The Institute is run by its members for its members and there are a lot of ways to volunteer. I first sat on the supplier CPD provider panel. This panel accredited CPD providers that suppliers and other bodies wanted to put on the BIID CPD supplier list. After that, I sat on the panel that put together the current contract (CID14) that is available for the membership. At the same time, I was on the CPD committee helping to put together the CPD programme for members. I was then asked to take over that committee as chairman and to sit on the governing council. Only members of council can be elected to the presidency and it is the council that votes. I was asked to stand and was subsequently elected. I completed my year as President Elect learning the ropes from Charles Leon and then took over from him this June. I will remain as President for a year and then stay on Council as Past President for another year. After that I will have to stand down from Council and will possibly sit on another committee.

What do you hope to bring as President of BIID?

When Charles was President, certain strategies were  put in place to enable the Institute to grow. This will all take time and so I want to build on those strategies going forward.

What can BIID offer your members in the coming year?

There are a number of ways that the BIID supports its membership. There is the Professional Pathway and a fantastic offering of CPDs and events which not only educate but help the membership to gain from the community. Free legal advice, CDM helpline, Professional Indemnity Insurance are just some of the benefits that are available to members.

As Koubou work across many disciplines of design, what advice would you give to designers starting out? 

I would always advise students to join the institute, so that they can learn how the institute can support them going forward. Join the Professional Pathway and follow it through to its conclusion. Attend as many CPDs as possible in as many disciplines as possible. Keep updating yourself and make sure to learn from other designers before striking out on your own. Networking events are also a way of meeting other designers and other professionals in the built environment. Connections are very important and although it takes time, building those connections is key.

Anything else you would like to add?

We should never stop learning  and there are a lot of tools out there to support the required learning. I often hear designers say that they are too busy to attend events and CPDs but I think you have to make the time. Knowledge is power. 

Many thanks to Gilly for providing Designer Connections with these invaluable insights – if you’d like to be interviewed about your design story, please contact Mike at your convenience. 

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